IT was the place to be on Saturday.
Early. And late.
Larry’s watering hole.
Yes, you guessed right.
Larry the Rebel.
The former Lily, writes Tommy Callaghan.
Now well and truly ensconced in Langer country.
He must have been the only Corkonian, either native or naturalised, happy on Saturday as he pulled pints faster than he kicked them over in his hay day.
Larry’s place was buzzing.
Packed with Lilies.
And still a couple of hours to the off.
We moved on.
The main business of the night.
A date with the Rebels.
Wind, rain, soft mucky surface.
And a poor enough opening half from the Brady Ham boys.
They looked sluggish.
Off the pace somewhat.
Didn’t look fully at the races.
A bit like the favourite in the bumper at Leopardstown.
As for the boys in red.
Despite having won four league titles in a row and one All Ireland they really are the great under achievers in the last five or six years.
Not that Kildare folk wouldn’t settle for a couple of league titles and an All Ireland mind you.
And remember when they did manage to capture Sam back in 2010 they did so only by the narrowest of margins and that was against Down.
No we won’t go there.
Air brush that one.
But back to the former headquarters of soccer down south, known in another life as Flower Lodge before being re-incarnated into Pairc Uí Rínn.
It’s the bit of gaeilge that makes the difference.
Things were not looking too promising at the break though.
Two points down.
It could have been six.
And there could have been no complaints.
Time to act.
Time to call in the youngsters.
You could feel the buzz around the place when young Niall Kelly appeared.
He has that effect.
Instantly he was on the ball.
A little jinx here and a little jinx there.
Pretended to go right ... and went right. A little kick pass that found its intended target.
Suddenly the travelling supporters saw a chink of light.
But these Rebels don’t give up easily.
They rarely polish teams off like they should and have paid the penalty on more than one occasion.
Rain coming down.
Young Kelly’s marker has had enough and leaves a calling card.
The third official (sorry keep thinking of Flower Lodge) linesman calls the match official and the card produced is hard to distinguish between its colour and the colour of the Cork jersey with number seven on its back.
Two separating the sides.
One separating the sides.
Two separating the sides.
Three separating the sides.
Two separating the sides.
Clock moving on.
Second half offering more what we expected.
Intensity up a few notches.
Clashes more meaningful.
Seanie Johnston, who escaped the clutches of two minders in the opening half, knocked over two minors, called ashore.
In comes another youngster.
The Celbridge lad.
He gathers down the left in that laid back style of his and attempts to throw one over from distance.
Spinning in the air.
Up goes Tomás.
About to hit the ground when the man who is more accustomed to wearing red than white appears like a beacon at the end of a dark alleyway.
Gathers and hits the sack.
Kildare’s first goal.
Young Kelly’s first goal.
The first of many.
Soon after and Tomás is at it again.
Bustles his way past his marker and spots Paudie coming through like Sheargar did over 30 years ago ... before going awol.
The Larries man looks up.
And sees Paddy the Celbridge man hanging around all alone like a young lad that had just just missed the last bus home.
Pass. Shot. Goal.
Done and dusted.
Two from two.
Four from four.
And the Lilies are blooming on a dark, wet night as the Rebels taste their second set back in eight days.
Kildare have been waiting since 1977 to put down the Rebels on their own sod (even in a renovated soccer ground) and have not beaten them on their own territory since 1992.
Over due? Just a tad.
And so we move on.
Kerry next up.
Three weeks time.
Pity. This Sunday would have been ideal.
But we won’t complain.
And so its back to Larry’s.
The great and the good in situ.
And others besides.
That former Kilkenny hurler Frank Cummins, a man with seven All Ireland medals to his credit and nearly as much as a Corkonian at this stage as Larry the Rebel, was in attendance.
Athy were well represented as was Castlemitchell. A few Sash boys spotted and a Moorefield lad and lassie or two.
Raheens voices heard as were Celbridge and Naas folk, not to mention Clane and Sallins.
A few Kilcullen lads were looking forward to a second night in the capital of the south (got a deal we couldn’t refuse was the excuse) while Eadestown lads seemed very much at home with one of their own.
Marty McEvoy was holding court as only Marty can while Niall Kelly’s dad had a smile on his face that could be still there the next time we meet in a few weeks time.
And the more you think of it there was probably more Rebels in Larry’s premises on Saturday night than there were in Pairc Uí Rinn.
What a poor turn out of natives for Kildare’s visit. In an attendance given as 2,928, the majority supporting McGeeney’s boys.
Did the natives know something the rest of us didn’t? If they did they should have let us into the secret.
And at odds of 11/4 a tidy little profit could have been made to offset the weekend expenses.
But, in fairness, there were some who availed of the layers’ odds.
One punter (name is safe with me) had a substantial wager at the break that The Lilies would prevail.
Decent odds. Brave man.
I couldn’t see it.
By name and by nature!